Can I Ride To South America?

Photography by Raul Rodriguez

From the March 1940 issue of Motorcyclist magazine

Requests have been numerous for information relative to roads, and other travel conditions in that vast tenitory between our southern border and the Argentine. There is no authority on that subject to compare with the Automobile Club of Southern California, because that organization conceived the idea of a Pacific International Highway and its engineers pioneered in a survey of the most logical route.

Scouting the highway, which will ultimately be the greatest in the world, was a heroic task. The story of it vies with the discovery of our new world in hardships, adventure and romance. The information secured on the first trip has been kept up to date at the expense of much time, money and arduous effort.

In the following article we believe Mr. Rodriguez, who has access to the maps and records of the Automobile Club of Southern California, has given the most pertinent information a motorcyclist could obtain. At the same time we believe the maps are the most authentic available. We Publish the article in an attempt to answer in advance most of the questions which might be asked of the club, of this magazine, of motorcycle dealers or of motorcycle factories.-Ed.

Of all the world’s highways, none seem to fascinate American motorcycle riders as much as the mysterious, uncharted routes through Mexico, Central and South America. Now as never before riders seem to be looking South for adventure aboard a motorcycle.

Central and South America are ripe for adventure. Road construction has so far progressed now that riders can claim a fifty-fifty chance of being able to ride all the way from the Mexican border to Buenos Aires. We say a fifty-fifty chance because over some sections of that 9,000-mile route the roads are not yet more than ox-cart trails that get washed out every rainy season and have to be worn down by the wheels of the carts anew every year-often on different routes. Over other miles of the way, there is no road of any kind, but on these stretches there are ways of shipping around by train or boat.

A ride from the United States to Buenos Aires is not a pleasure trip. It is a project that takes lots of preparation, adequate equipment, plenty of perseverance-I would say “guts” if I dared-and much time. On the other hand, there is no trip more adventurous exciting and educational than such a tour would be. Motorcycle riders seem to realize this fully, for every agency possessing information on roads in Mexico, Central and South America is being flooded with requests for data by motorcyclists thinking of giving it a try.

This article is an attempt to give motorcycle riders a brief mile-by-mile report on road conditions from the Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona, down the International Pacific Highway route to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The information given herein is based on information which the Automobile Club of Southern California believes trustworthy. It is as accurate as any report could be, but it cannot be 100 percent right, for the following reason: In sparsely settled sections, where roads are almost entirely dirt heavy rains wash out the roadbeds every year. When the rains stop, traffic begins again, and the road is

re-established in due course of time. Sometimes the washouts and floods have taken directions that make it necessary to change the route of the road. Sometimes the road isn’t re-established at all, sometimes it is in worse condition one year than the next. Conditions change, and no report can keep up with them entirely.

From any point in the United States, good roads lead to Nogales, Arizona. Nogales is a mighty pleasant town, situated high in the hills of Southern Arizona, and it is the gateway into Mexico on the International Pacific Highway route. The road south from Nogales through Hermosillo, capital of the State of Sonora, to Guaymas, is a fine, natural gravel-surfaced highway, smooth and fast enough to suit anybody, but dusty at times. It should be easy to make the 270 miles to Guaymas in less than 10 hours.

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